Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, whose immigration reform proposal would grant far-reaching powers to the secretary of Homeland Security and other top administration officials, says he does not trust Washington to make critical decisions about the nation’s future.
Rubio made the comment Wednesday during a debate on the budget and the debt limit. He opposes including an increase in the debt limit in the new budget and wants to make sure that no increase comes out of a House-Senate conference committee. The problem, Rubio said in an impassioned floor speech, is that there has been in the past a bipartisan consensus to increase federal spending, and the debt limit along with it.
“What I am concerned about is the regular order of doing things in this city, where the debt limit has been raised consistently, without any conversation about the fact that this government borrows 40 cents out of every dollar that it spends,” Rubio said. “My concern is that I do not have trust in Washington, D.C. I don’t care who’s in charge.”
Despite that lack of trust on fiscal issues, Rubio places enormous trust in Washington when it comes to handling immigration. His 867-page reform proposal gives the secretary of Homeland Security great discretion in maintaining border security, internal enforcement, the legalization of currently illegal immigrants, and dozens of other issues. A quick search reveals that the bill uses the words "the Secretary” about 1,050 times. That’s a lot of emphasis on Washington, D.C.
And even when Rubio proposes to place power outside of Washington — as in his proposal to hand over border security to a commission if the secretary of Homeland Security has not succeeded in enforcing it — he still places a lot of trust in Washington. The commission, Rubio has said, “is not a Washington commission, made up of congressmen or bureaucrats. It’s largely led by the border state governors, who have a vested local interest in ensuring that that border is secure.” But Rubio’s bill specifies that the commission will have 10 members, of whom six will be appointed by the president or members of Congress, while the other four will be either the governor of a border state or someone the governor delegates. Even Rubio’s non-Washington commission would be a mostly Washington commission.
Perhaps in his remarks Wednesday Rubio was referring narrowly to the budget and debt ceiling, and he in fact places great trust in Washington to handle other issues. But Washington has, by general consensus, a terrible record on immigration. In coming weeks, Rubio will have to make the case that Washington should be trusted with broad new powers in handling millions of immigrants — even as he makes just the opposite case when it comes to fiscal issues.